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Why I Quit OS X – Geoff Wozniak (wozniak.ca)
454 points by jpace121 on Jan 4, 2015 | hide | past | web | favorite | 495 comments

I haven't quit it, but the problems, annoyances, surprises, seeming ineptitude, and creeping iOSification of OS X that the author describes sure do resonate.

Every new major release of OS X is a day or week spent disabling things, shutting down Spotlight again, trying to restore things back to the way they were instead of the way some Designer with a capital D thinks they should be, for no other reason than, "Beauty."

I just dread the idea of moving to Linux again. I don't want to tinker that much. But I am worried sick that OS X is dying, in the sense that it's becoming a platform to deliver people to Apple's (and partners') cloud services and sharing services and that's it. Screw all of that.

One major shot across the bow was the loss of "Save As..." and the change to "Duplicate". WTF, Apple? I now have to do 10 extra steps just to Save As.

It feels like Apple is abandoning its longtime users, the master users, the users who've climbed the pyramid, who've achieved a lot of game levels. It's just going after that huge base of newbies and midlevel people who don't notice or complain about all the changes that really, truly are not improvements. They're just changes. That's the problem in a nutshell: OS X changes because there's new management that wants to put its stamp on things, regardless of whether it improves the productivity of the user or not.

Why do people update OS X? Just curious. If it works how you like, why update it? Security flaws are probably the main reason, but isn't there a way to get those without acquiescing to an OS redesign?

Because you have to: OSX doesn't have much of a culture of backwards compatibility, and every update tends to pressure developers into the latest greatest thing. Maintaining old software is just not a cultural value.

Once the developers move, the users pretty much have to. I have an iMac from 2009. I had two OS's on it. Windows 7? Everything still works there. Runs fast, new software is great, etc. OSX 10.6.8? DEAD. It's basically useless. I guess it's nice that apple offers free upgrades, except that they mysteriously make a system that used to be lightning fast extremely slow, even though other OS's seem to run just fine..

I am running snow leopard on a 2009 mac pro.

It works perfectly. I have zero complaints or issues. It's no problem at all.

I use chrome and terminal for most of my work, but I do run itunes and vmware fusion and run some apps that give me a tiled interface and focus-follows-mouse.

No problems at all. I couldn't be happier.

I am sure it would all go to hell if I got a current model and tried to run SL on it ...

Snow Leopard is no longer receiving security updates; that'd give me pause in anything but a very firewalled desktop installation.

I upgraded SL -> Mavericks a few months ago when it stopped receiving security updates.

It's slightly worse (I don't like mission control, messages is useless to me) but not as bad as Lion (i.e. you'll just need to disable the stupid scroll behaviour, but performance is good).

On the plus side, you get the option to use new software developed for "10.7+" (heroku's db client, atom editor, swift etc)

Apple has a pretty vicious hardware/software upgrade treadmill.

I resisted updating 10.4 for years; IMO that was the high water mark for OS X, everything has basically been downhill from there. If I could still run 10.4 plus bugfixes and security updates, with modern software, I would.

But that's not possible. They push out new versions of the OS, along with new versions of development tools, which produce software that's not backwards-compatible past a certain point, such that eventually you can't run new software without installing major (0.1) updates. Apple's own products are the worst for this, but eventually you lose 3rd party apps as well.

Even if you resist the demands of new software, you'll eventually get forced to upgrade via hardware. Each generation of Apple hardware has a minimum OS version, keeping you from going back too far. For instance, Mac Pro "quad core" and 8-core systems won't run OS 10.4; Nehalem-based machines won't run 10.6. And Apple has purposely killed off its compatibility layers, dropping first the Classic environment and more recently Rosetta, in order to introduce barriers to running old software.

It's pretty frustrating as a user.

Classic/Rosetta were dropped during the moves to x86 and 64-bit. Given that almost all software was upgraded I can see why Apple didn't think the effort was worth it. And for all we know it could've been technically impossible.

Not sure why you're getting downvoted. I stuck with 10.6 until Linux. Took a look at anything past Lion... "nope!". I despised 10.8 enough to actually downgrade my 2012 MBP to 10.6.

But as for "why update" - up until 10.6, there were performance improvements as well as useful features (subjective -I know- fine).

As for "why update nowadays" - well, 10.6 isn't really supported nowadays. (cough Java 7 cough)

Yep, 10.6.8 was the best OS X ever, and I'd still be running it if I could.

Blame Oracle for Java 7 not working on older OS releases.

Apple stopped maintaining Java at version 6.

Both were Apple's choice. Apple's Java 6 relied on proprietary interfaces that were not part of the contribution to OpenJDK. Oracle could not have even recreated the Java 6 MacOS port. The other big reason was that new MacOS versions were only x64 and going to the trouble of making a 32 bit port for only obsolete OSes was a non-starter.

The reason--the only reason--I'm seriously considering upgrading from 10.6 is that new programs increasingly don't support it anymore. I download a simple little helper app and it says "The program requires OS X 10.8 or higher."

My best guess is that programmers build with the latest libraries, and the latest libraries require the latest OS version. If the dev is running on the latest version, it never crosses his mind to do otherwise.

I did the same thing recently, and I've hated it since. 10.7 removed Rosetta, broke "Save As", and annoyified the Save dialog.

But there were just too many pieces of software that wouldn't run, and unpatched security holes didn't seem like a good idea either.

To add insult to injury, Apple doesn't allow you to virtualize non-server versions of 10.6. You can, thankfully, hack VMWare Workstation and keep running your previous machine's image that way, but it's shitty that you have to jump through those hoops. It seems geared specifically towards keeping people from continuing to use their old apps.

> If the dev is running on the latest version, it never crosses his mind to do otherwise.

New and/or updated frameworks/APIs [1] make the developer's job easier. Why wouldn't you want to take advantage of them?

[1] https://developer.apple.com/library/mac/releasenotes/MacOSX/...

I'd like to keep 10.6 support in the open source app I help out with but there are so many improvements in 10.7 and 10.8 from a developer point of view that the latest release will be the last to support 10.6 (and 32-bit macs). By improvements I mean genuine time saving features like base localisation, not "ooh shiny dot syntax!".

Until a version is EOL'd, sure, and that's what I've been doing. But 10.6 was EOL'd in late 2013, and by early 2014 at the latest it had unpatched major flaws, so I had to upgrade to 10.9.

So Windows has become more sane than OS X in terms of security updates?

EDIT: Windows 7 was released in 2009 and is still receiving security updates. 10.6 was released in 2011 and has been EOL'd. Seeing as both people still want to use these products, but one group is being forced not to, that's why I'm saying OS X is taking a less sane stance than Windows.

Is this false?

OS X upgrades are free, more like Windows Service Packs in a way. Microsoft also drops support for pre-SP versions of Windows after a time. The clock is ticking for Windows 8.0; you have to upgrade to 8.1.

Free upgrades can still come at a cost.

Multi-monitor full-screen was broken from 10.7 through 10.8. Thousands complained, Apple claimed it a feature.

Not fixable, not tweakable, not reversible. 10.6 or one full-screen monitor at a time.

Fuck off, Apple.

I worked on the full screen feature in 10.7 through 10.9!

Full screen in 10.7 and 10.8 did render secondary displays useless. But it was a new feature in 10.7, so there was nothing to reverse. You can't take Safari, Mail, etc. full screen in 10.6.

Perhaps there was an app you used that switched from a custom full screen implementation to the system one, and so regressed on secondary displays?

VLC, iTerm (& Terminal? I think), Chrome, Firefox, ... Most things I used had some sort of full-screen mode that was then "hijacked" by 10.7's native full-screen mode. I say "hijacked" because even versions that were pre-Lion would somehow end up using the native "feature".

The thing to reverse would have been the "switch to new workspace when full-screening" - or at the very least make it optional. Certainly not respond "that's a feature" and close as "working as expected" when thousands complain.

I failed to see the value in that feature even with a single screen. An action that used to happen instantaneously now took 1-2s. and a dizzying sliding animation. (Many a flow was lost to toggling full-screen by accident - whereas previously you could toggle/toggle back immediately without losing your mental state - surely you appreciate that as a developer?).

Ok, I get it: you don't like how the system full screen integrates with workspaces, and you were peeved when other apps adopted it in place of their own implementations. Of course Apple did not "hijack" anything: full screen support has always been strictly opt-in. But apps would feel pressure to adopt the system implementation.

Full screen was an effort to make OS X more usable on small displays - recall that the 11" MacBook Air had just shipped. It didn't make much sense for media playback apps to adopt the system full screen mode, especially as it was in 10.7-8.

I would have loved to enable a system mode where full screen windows could coexist in the same workspace as unrelated windows, but this would have been a new feature, not something we could have achieved by reversing anything. And eventually Apple did enable a new mode, which was what shipped in 10.9.

Oh, and if you filed a bug, then whoever closed it as "working as expected" made a mistake. There was a (heavily duped) bug tracking the uselessness of secondary displays in FS, and it was closed when 10.9 shipped. I may even have been the one to close it, I don't remember.

Of course Apple did not "hijack" anything: full screen support has always been strictly opt-in. But apps would feel pressure to adopt the system implementation.

This doesn't make much sense, does it? Obviously apps adopt the system implementation. The problem the OP is talking about is that the system implementation became pretty weird, broke some apps that used to work just fine (especially lots of xquartz ones), and thought that the best use for your extra monitors was to just display a dark gray pattern.

Personally, I learned to live with it (sigh, uncheck "displays have separate spaces"), but it does seem like a good example of Apple shoving a half-baked idea out the door.

QuickTime and iTunes. I used to watch tv or a movie on one of my displays while coding on another. Instead I got to watch linen one screen while watching a movie (double whammy here because even showing pure black on the other screen would have been better since at least it wouldn't distract from the video).

I can't specifically recall, but I think the same was true of full screening video content from Safari (perhaps technically a "plugin feature", but maybe html5 video was around?), but QuickTime was 100% an apple regression.

I have no idea how the full-screen mode is supposed to work or what it is supposed to be good for; I just know that every now and then I fat-finger something and accidentally invoke it, at which point whatever single window I happened to be using zooms to take over one of my monitors, while the other monitor turns grey and useless. I don't understand how this could ever be a useful feature.

> Fuck off, Apple.

Log off, user.

I took it personally because my vendor condescendingly told me that the fact that I can't use my environment (multi-monitor) the way I wanted (full-screening applications) was actually a feature. Apple was telling me to STFU or GTFO.

So I did the latter :)

All you can do is seek your own joy. Expecting others to do that for you is setting expectations. Not sure why I got the downvotes, but I'm happy you got free of OSX. I'm still hanging in there...for now.

How was it broken ?

It worked exactly the same as before only Apple added full screen mode which didnt work in an ideal way. But guess what you don't have to use it. Just maximise your windows normally or use one of the many free tools to do it via keystrokes.

But yeh fuck Apple for offering free OS upgrades that are completely optional.

Windows 7 will be supported through 2020 according to http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/lifecycle

The updates are free.

Did you read what I said about OS X upgrades being like Service Packs? Did you read your link?

> Support for Windows 7 RTM without service packs ended on April 9, 2013.

A service pack doesn't completely redesign how people interact with Windows, though. But OS X "service packs" tend to do just that. In fact, that was the author's frustration.

Seeing as OS X service packs also come out very frequently, whereas Windows are very rare, I'm not sure the two are comparable.

I should probably bow out now. I just thought it was interesting.

Bow out if you will, but I've agreed with everything you've said thus far and don't think you made any false/slanderous/etc statements.

I think the principle attribute that determines how long support lasts is the cost to get to the next supported version and not anything to do with feature differences. Apple made the decision to give away upgrades precisely so they could move people off old versions I suspect.

They'd be like Service Packs if Service Packs broke backwards compatibility and changed core functionality of the OS, which they typically don't. They are not analogous.

Is it meaningful to compare it to a service pack when there are significant changes such that they're driving users away?

I believe 10.6 was released in 2009, not in 2011[1]


>10.6 was released in 2011

Wikipedia says 10.6 was released August 28, 2009.

xcode 5 requires you to update OSX

Desktop Linux is mostly install an work. I have not done any tinkering for a long time.

But the Yosemite upgrade on laptop brought back my memories of initial Ubuntu distributions. I had disable few setting to get some performance. I had to change few UI setting to get a decent look. It looks a transition phase OS.But ubuntu on that m/c had few touch pad issues otherwise it would have been the default OS for me on the laptop.

> Desktop Linux is mostly install an work.

It is...until it isn't. Nine out of ten Ubuntu or Mint installs will go off without a hitch, with no weird issues or regressions, and a warm, friendly, comfortable development environment welcomes you. Then there's that one time you install it on your laptop so you have a to-go environment that matches your workstation, and BOOM! your wifi isn't recognized (what year is it again??) or your sound card sputters (damn you PulseAudio!), or your hybrid graphics screws the pooch. Hell, I built this workstation I'm typing on with GNU/Linux and BSD compatibility first in my mind, and I still had issues with some hardware right off the bat. Nothing that can't be fixed with some fiddling, but it's annoying as hell.

Yes, all of the above issues can be fixed, just like the issues you dealt with in OS X. It's a computer, after all; Garbage In (Apple/Linux/BSD developers), Garbage Out. And don't get me started on Windows 8.x; it's finally becoming usable daily, but there are a million reasons I chose to stick with 7 for Windows-specific work, and wait it out until 10 ships.

Apple broke the cardinal rule: If it isn't broken, stop fixing it! They want to innovate and improve and conquer the world, fine; but they need to remember that they had the best OS X release with Snow Leopard (and in my personal opinion, that was the best desktop OS period). In their rush to wow the masses, they broke their OS for those of us who use it to be productive and creative.

At this stage, I feel that a good old fashioned, stable OS like FreeBSD or Slackware Linux or Debian is the best choice for a solid 'nix workstation, something you can get real work done on. But ever since Lion was released, I would rather use Windows Vista on a Core Solo machine than OS X on any Mac.

I dual boot windows and ubuntu. They both have their good points and their bad points.

> Nine out of ten Ubuntu or Mint installs will go off without a hitch

Even when the installs go off without a hitch, there are always lingering pain in the ass problems and they're all related to buggy drivers, bad UI tools and dependency hell. Every time I think about making my own distro, I come back to those three big problems and think: the last two are fixable. The drivers... not so much.

I don't agree. Occasionally there are lingering problems. Not very often in my experience.

You obviously don't punish your poor system as much as I do. ;)

More wifi then Sound were common for me before don't have them now. Actually i face these issues when doing a fresh installation of Win7. Many times i had use Ubuntu to find windows drivers!

My Macbook pro Ubuntu installation went without any problems. Touch pad mouse clicks weren't as exact as OS X. I am used to it hence was not able to use Ubuntu. Maybe i should tinker a bit.

On this particular machine I'm using, some distros have excellent sound out of the box and some require snoop=0 added to the snd_hda_intel options in /etc/module.d/ to avoid stuttering audio. I didn't discover this bug until after I'd bought the motherboard and tried various distros; in my research it never came up.

And on a completely different note, I have a Dell Latitude laptop from around 2000 or so, a Pentium III machine, that has no built in networking unless you count the dial-up modem. I picked up a random CardBus wifi card for $5, and OpenBSD recognized and configured it flawlessly.

It really all comes down to whether the OS developers have access to the hardware the rest of us use. If, for example, your wifi doesn't work, it's not likely to until enough bug reports are submitted that the kernel hackers responsible for wifi drivers get their hands on the hardware and write or improve a driver. It's the same for those trackpad issues you had; someone somewhere has to debug that.

This is why it's a good idea to research your hardware if you intend to run anything other than Windows or OS X. And even with research, it's rarely 100% working out of the box. That's the tradeoff for having what (in my opinion) is a very productive and comfortable working environment.

But ever since Lion was released, I would rather use Windows Vista on a Core Solo machine than OS X on any Mac

Huh? And I am not saying that they don't have problems.

Sorry, a bit of hyperbole on my part. I was alluding to the "Vista Capable" days, when machines barely able to run XP were touted by their manufacturers as "Vista Capable", even though they knew very well that the new OS had much higher requirements than XP. Core Solo CPUs were particularly bad at running any Windows OS, and were featured in many of those machines.

My point being, even a kludgy setup like that was more tolerable than OS X 10.7 and up (again, hyperbole, but close enough to the truth in my case).

And it is that point that I am talking about, and I was wondering what problems made it that unusable. I was not saying that there is no problems.

I thought it was obvious from my clarification: Lion was the Vista of the Mac world. Major instability, much slower than SL, broken hardware drivers in my case, forced obsolescence (why drop support for perfectly capable Core Duo and even some Core 2 Duo machines?), massive changes to file saving...it would be faster to list what wasn't screwed up.

Yea I know, but this says nothing about Mountain Lion or Mavericks.

Jesus Christ. Okay, in short, ML fixed some but not all of Lion's issues, and Mavericks fixed a few more but introduced a lot of annoying "features" that still broke my workflow. Yosemite was another huge regression, almost as bad as Lion.

If you want more specific than that, you'll have to find someone who has spent more time than I have on those OS releases. I've tried each one and have yet to see anything better than Snow Leopard; if you don't like that answer, too bad. I'm done.

Welcome to yuhong, he's famous for this on basically every comments page I've seen him on

You know, I started getting the feeling I was being trolled early on, but I didn't dare try calling it out here. Trolls seem to be dealt with by the staff but regular users who call them out get spanked too.

This does not make them that unusable. I was not implying that there is no problems.

I always wonder where do people get these quirks... And I suspect mostly that's Ubuntu's fault, which is a shitty OS to begin with. It's the only distro I had problems with my graphics card (an Aspire 5050, several years ago), and the audio output.

I've been on archlinux, on testing, for christ sake, and it's been at least a year since I had an issue of any kind.

Debian was also fine by me, but the software was too old on stable; I did have installation issues with it, however, on other peoples laptops.

I've tried Debian, arch and several flavors of Ubuntu (like #!). The quirks aren't in the OS, they're in the shitty drivers, which are common to all linux based oses. Just because you don't personally see an issue doesn't mean others don't. The inconsistency across hardware is a large reason apple forces people to use their OS only on approved hardware.

Ironically, Ubuntu was the only distro that didn't present audio stuttering for me out of the box. I usually run Slackware and it was present there, which led me to research it until I found a fix. I chalked it up to Ubuntu staying on the bleeding edge even with their LTS releases, along with having the largest user base by far (more users = more people with this bug = more incentive to fix it).

Either way, it was an easy fix for Slackware and the other half dozen distros I've tried on this machine, and I've found generally that Slackware is the best fit for someone who doesn't mind getting their hands dirty occasionally, in exchange for stability and lack of dependency issues.

I don't know how it is on Macs (probably worse), but on my Lenovo Y50 I've had a lot of issues getting my nVidia card to work properly. First I tried Arch Linux, which I had been using on my previous machine for about 2 years now, and no matter what I did I couldn't get my nVidia card to work properly, even with the nvidia-beta package from the AUR.

So then I tried Ubuntu, thinking that would be the "easy" distro. It installed alright, but the nVidia card was still giving me trouble and the official Ubuntu nVidia packages weren't new enough (it's a GTX 860M). So I added a PPA with a newer version of the driver and that seemed to get it working at least, but I still had massive screen tearing issues, and for some reason the nVidia settings app had far fewer settings than the Windows version I have on the other partition, and it didn't even have an option to enable vsync, which should resolve the tearing. After trawling through mountains of nVidia documentation and forum posts, including, no joke, the EBNF for their config file, I still can't get the damn thing to work.

I'd like to have a real shell and be able to play games without rebooting, but the polish on desktop Linux still isn't quite there yet. And yes, I know this particular problem isn't the fault of Linux or any of the other software in Ubuntu, but it's a problem with the ecosystem and it's one that's preventing me from using Linux as much as I'd like to right now.

If you export __GL_SYNC_TO_VBLANK=1 in your environment then that should force the nvidia driver to sync to vblank.

Apparently I had tried messing with some other environment variables earlier, but this one didn't do it either. It shouldn't be this hard to tell a GPU to slow down when it draws things.

That was one of the things I tried and somehow it still didn't do it. Setting it in the individual games' settings didn't to it either. I'll try one more time though.

I assume the PPA you added was xorg-edgers? I needed to use that one to get my nvidia card working (was quite a new model when I got it...)

I agree RE: Duplicate/Save As…, although you can get Save As… back if you hold down the Option key. I don't remember when I last used Duplicate.

Is this a complaint about the Preview app? Because obviously all other programs you might run in OSX make their own decisions about their functionality. Personally, I always use the Menubar search feature via QuickSilver or the default Help>Search shortcut, CMD+?, so I never even noticed those features have been now hidden behind an option key.

The Duplicate/Save As thing is present in any app that's using the system document-based app frameworks and has opted-in to autosave... you'll see it in most of Apple's apps (like TextEdit, Preview, or Pages) and in some third-party apps (off the top of my head, I know Pixelmator does it, and there are others).

iA Writer is another to go down this route. To be honest, I hadn't really noticed since most of my time is spent in Chrome, Sublime Text, Spotify/iTunes, Cyberduck, and Mail. None of these - even the last - have adopted the new api/framework.

Thank you for this, I had no idea. Further, I have no idea how I would have found out about this if not for stumbling across it randomly online, as the menubar is simply not a place where I expect options to be changeable and there's nothing in the menu to suggest option will modify it.

Whoa! Thanks for that tip. I am amazed I never tried that as well as sure grateful to now know it.

Happy to help!

You can switch to Linux, but unfortunately it's been degrading along similar lines.

Big, wrong ideas are destructive, and the two biggest, wrongest ones right now seem to be: "desktops are just out-of-date tablets", and "the only good affordance is a dead affordance".

Affordances are what make computers humane, and there's a world of difference between how phones are used (mostly social), tablets are used (mostly media consumption), and how desktops are used (mostly productivity).

The visionaries in charge of all three of Windows/OSX/Linux are of similar mind about the "big ideas", and it's caused a lot of grief for productive people.

I disagree regarding the "tablet" point - while the major DEs take some UI inspiration from tablets, in general they're still very much desktop-oriented. People often complain about Unity for being "too much like a tablet", but actually try using it on a tablet and it's not well-suited at all in its current form.

You might want to look at KDE and XFCE though - both are sticking more to traditional Linux desktop ideas than Gnome and Unity.

I don't think we actually disagree. The tablet/desktop convergence is them trying to sit between two barstools - true that they're still mostly toward desktop, but they aimed for both and hit neither.

And agreed on your second point, using XFCE right now.

What's an affordance? I've never heard that term in this context before.

In UI terms, it's any sort of visual clue for the user to do something. A button might be drawn as a "raised" thing inviting you to press it down; a window corner that has larger and visually obvious "drag handles" where you can grab it to resize the window; that sort of thing.

Thank you. It's getting to be a rare event that I get an answer to a question on HN. I really appreciate it. :)

I believe the term they use is "buttery".

I'm with you on moving back to Linux, having sufficient experience with both I'm loathe to move back for both hardware and software envrionment frustrations. I do have hope that things will get better on that side of the fence, but OSX would have to become pretty terrible for me to do that anytime soon (though they seem to really be pushing their luck lately).

Here's my OS X vs Linux experience circa 2014.

I have a new OS X MBP. 16 GB RAM, NVIDIA Something (650?), SSD, Yosemite, i7. I have an older i7 Sager, 16 GB RAM, Nvidia 550m, HDD.

The Sager for years has been a terrible computer due to the WIFI support. It was crappy in Windows and worse in Linux. I actually looked forward to getting the MBP. Recently, however, I found a guy's opensource driver for the RealTek WIFI. This is more stable than the actual official driver. His blog post was great about how to install it. Now I've got two computer to compare.

OSX is apparently terrible at memory management. Running Eclipse and like 10 tabs in FF can cause the system to swap. On the SSD I loath the very concept. Some of my comments on HN about Light Table stem from the fact that LT uses .5 GB of memory when everything is said and done (node helpers, etc). LT on OS X ran great, but OS X would swap. Running multiple VirtualBox instances made it worse. I tend to run about 260-350 MB of swap if not more for a few small programs.

Cut to Ubuntu. Once I got use to Unity I liked Ubuntu. The OS is smooth, use-able and well-supported both at a community level and from a system update perspective. I can run a 2 GB Arango VM, and 3 Hadoop VMs at once all nicely networked to each other via host-only. FF with the same 10-ish tabs running with lein REPL and Counterclockwise (Eclipse IDE for Clojure) and still only use 76 KB of swap.

Now aside from following a few steps about getting the WIFI to work, I've not really done much Ubuntu customization. I haven't had to. I installed it, it worked, I worked.

OS X had some nice ideas, but, IMHO, Linux caught up. The terminals available with Linux are better than the default terminal with OS X. They are more memory efficient than Console 2. Unity works well. I actually have muscle memory trying to work with OS X as I do Unity.

I will grant that the OS X laptop is light years ahead of my Linux box's battery. Even when the battery was new, the Linux laptop was lucky to get 2.5 hours. The OS X laptop gets 5 hrs or so under my daily load.

Interestingly, the only laptop of the 5 or so I've owned to have a dead pixel is the MBP. Under white backgrounds it's easy to miss. On dark backgrounds I'm annoyed.

Does OS X' swappiness affect performance?

I don't have personal experience since my MBP has a SSD. Things page fairly quickly. It will affect the total life expectancy of the drive. With the new models of MBP that's a real problem. The drive and it's logic board have to be replaced. This will require me to pay a "Genius" to do that. Ideally I could just pop a few screws and be done.

SSD lifespan concerns are overdone. Tech report took 100TB of constant writing to get a TLC SSD to start showing errors, and you're not likely to do that. However, by avoiding swap, you're in all likelihood causing extra reads, which also degrade performance. I advise saving your worry for other aspects, such as reliability during unexpected power loss.


I'll let it swap (since I can't figure out how to shut of swap). I just do any heavy lifting on my Sager. A nice side effect is that I have to make sure my deployment flow works.

> I now have to do 10 extra steps just to Save As.

I feel your pain. Fortunately you can have Save As back: System Preferences -> Keyboards -> Shortcuts -> App Shortcuts. Add a shortcut called "Save As..." with Command-Shift-S. Magically, Duplicate is gone.

Great suggestion, but I could not get "Save As…" (associated with Command-Shift-S) to appear in the File menu of the Preview app (where I'd like to see it), after following your guidance. I have 10.7.5. I don't care if Duplicate is there or not; I would like to add Save As as you described.

I'm sorry, I can't speak to 10.7.5; though I'd be surprised if it didn't work. This trick works great in 10.8.x and 10.9.x.

Thank you! Actually Duplicate is still there for me, but that's fine.

Sorry, you also need to assign Command-Option-Shift-S to Duplicate. Then Duplicate will magically be hidden behind Save As... in the way that Save As... was previously hidden behind Duplicate. [That is, when you hold the option key down, Duplicate changed to Save As...]. Otherwise they'll be shown together in the menu.

>That's the problem in a nutshell: OS X changes because there's new management that wants to put its stamp on things, regardless of whether it improves the productivity of the user or not.

I'm not an OS X user, but that's a solid observation, that at least partly accounts for the issues, based on my experience of other OS's and software. I've seen the same happen, from the inside, in large companies where I've worked, and also, from the outside, a lot, as a user of various software packages and OS's, that seems to be the case, many times. Of course there are other reasons too.

I was just talking to a non-tech [1] friend yesterday who was complaining about the OS problems he was having (Ubuntu, in his case), and who said, essentially, that things are too difficult - upgrades screwing things up, etc. etc. My reply to him: the state of the art in software (in general) is still below what it should be - or words to that effect.

[1] Of course, part of the reason for his problems is that he is not tech-savvy (though he actually is more so than the average layman), but that raises the question of why software in general cannot be more user-friendly and easier to use. Difficult question, I know, since the field is so complex, and compounded by the existence of so many different versions of hardware, operating systems, and applications, all (mis)interacting with each other. Reminds me of my erstwhile system engineer days: customer has a problem (in a specific app situation) with this model of that computer that we sell and support? check the OS version: is it Ver. x.y.z? ah, that's not compatible with BIOS (or motherboard) Ver. a.b.c - only when using that particular RDBMS / compiler / whatever; upgrade the BIOS (or motherboard or OS or problematic software) to Ver. p.q.r ...... :) (which point was sometimes learnt after system / hardware engineers had spent a lot of time trying to solve the problem on their own, before escalating it to head office)

It was good fun and learning, but frustrating too at times, and must have been for some customers too ...

I agree completely. And believe it or not, I went back to Windows. Sort of. I'm testing the waters. My big issue is iTunes. Yeah I drank the kool-aid and now have an iTunes library of about 100GB. Despite how much I hate what iTunes has become at least is runs on Windows.

Also, it's easier to "turn features off" in Windows than OSX these days. I'm sad about it though. But after 14 years on Mac I'm done. It was the upgrade to 10.10 that finally pissed me off enough to leave.

By the way, anyone know of a good terminal app for Windows? Not too crazy about Powershell. I have been using Git Bash and that's decent so far.

If by having an "iTunes" library you mean it has some old DRMd 128kbps AAC files, I believe they'll let you download non-DRMd 256kbps versions which will then play in most decent media players. AAC achieves transparency at lower bitrates than MP3, and compatibility really isn't much of a problem these days. Windows users seem to like foobar2000, MusicBee, or dBPowerAmp so you can move on from iTunes.

> By the way, anyone know of a good terminal app for Windows? Not too crazy about Powershell. I have been using Git Bash and that's decent so far.

Reading your expectations and gripes, I'd say try http://bliker.github.io/cmder/ , the goodness of clink bundled with ConEmu and a sexy Monokai theme.

Why can't you migrate your music collection away from iTunes? I thought the DRM was killed long ago.

Apple removed the DRM from new music sales. All existing music sold before then is still DRM locked. When Apple discontinued DRM, they made user spend $0.30 per song to unlock them (seriously). Now, it appears you can spend $25 for iTunes Match, ensure the affected songs are available, delete the local DRM-infected ones, and it will download proper ones to replace them.

iTunes Match brings its own issues to the party. I've had songs that I own, with 'explicit content', that I've hand-ripped, converted into radio friendly abominations that are, frankly, unlistenable. Maybe that's just Apple's 'family-friendly' values shining through; that might be appropriate for some, but I don't have a Big Brother in real life, and I don't want one messing with my music collection either!

You can redownload DRM-free versions for free:


There were programs for removing the DRM from iTunes files. I used one successfully. Maybe they don't work anymore? I don't know.

Or you can burn your DRM songs to CD, then rip to DRM-free MP3.

Encoding music that has lossy compression with a lossy compressor? Not a good idea ;).

Know a good music player for Windows? And don't tell me Windows Media Player. :)

http://www.foobar2000.org/ is a fantastic piece of software. Extremely efficient/powerful/customizable (and closed-source). I sorely miss it under Linux, Rhythmbox/Quodlibet/Amarok/Clementine don't even come close.

What powerful features does one need in music player? Or, what features do you miss in OSS players?

WMP actually isn't that bad these days, though all I use it for is ripping CDs (yep, those shiny plastic things for you young'uns) since it's great at that. For playback in Windows, I've stuck with Winamp through the years as I haven't found anything that works the way it does without a bunch of features I don't need. I tried Foobar2000 and couldn't get into it, and MediaMonkey just seemed like overkill.

By the way, a great site for finding apps in specific genres is alternativeto.net. Here's a list of alternatives to iTunes:


I'll never understand this community...downvoted because I use WMP (oh the horror), or downvoted because I was trying to be helpful?

I moved to Linux (Ubuntu) and migrated a HUGE iTunes library along with it. I now use Clementine as my music management / player. I believe there's a way to import an iTunes library, but the iTunes metadata is all in one big XML file. So I wrote a script that loads all my metadata into Clementine's sqlite database.

I can't tell you in words how awesome this is.


But I have used it for 10 years and it's the only reason I still have Windows machines in my house. It's that good.

Winamp is still my preference.


I use Cygwin on a regular basis. It's basically indispensible, because it's the only thing that does what it does. But I get the strong impression that it was designed to punish Windows users. Just off the top of my head:

* It has no idea about Windows file system conventions. IIRC, the default install directory is "C:\Cygwin".

* The "default" install is super bare-bones, and missing a lot of pretty basic Unix utils. This would be a minor complaint, except:

* The installer--the bit that you download--is also the package manager. This means that if you install it and then delete the installer like a responsible, space-conserving user, then the first time you realize that you don't have, I dunno, rsync, you have to download the installer again. And then, unless you having to manually navigate to your Downloads folder every time you want to install a damn package, you have to find a place for it to live on your drive and set up a start-menu shortcut for it. These things are why we invented installers, so why doesn't the installer do them?

* And, as you may have guessed from that last bit, there is no way to install packages from within the Cygwin terminal. In fact, you have to close all open terminals every time you want to run the package manager. You can imagine how much fun that is. The excuse for this is "such a program would need full access to all of Cygwin's POSIX functionality. That is, however, difficult to provide in a Cygwin-free environment, such as exists on first installation." In other words, they can't provide a proper package manager because then they couldn't make the installer and the package manager the same program which they shouldn't be fucking doing anyway.

* Every time you run the installer/package manager, you have to click "Okay" seven times (yes, I counted) to confirm a load of options that you will almost certainly never change after first install.

This ran way longer than I intended. Apparently I am fussed. :-/ The thing that really gets me is that this isn't even a case of Unix grognards not knowing or caring about Windows standards. There is no modern OS where installing an application off of the root directory is acceptable. I don't get it.

I think Cygwin is trying to be an Operating system ontop another operating system. Windows is in C:\Windows, so there is some logic behind Cygwin being in C:\Cygwin. It's not ideal, but I wouldn't call it all together illogical.

The package management is indeed a mass. The install.exe should literally install ONLY the barebones system plus some kind of terminal app, like Putty (because CMD is a pain to use), and then open the terminal to continue installation from there.

I look in on the Cygwin users' mailing list every now and again and I have a lot of respect for the devs and how they run their project, finding a usable middle ground between Windows and Linux (Cygwin at its core is a DLL that emulates POSIX and Linux-specific system calls).

The installer being the package manager threw me when I first started using Cygwin. However, when I researched the issue, I can see how the choice made sense. Unlike a Linux system, you can't upgrade the Cygwin DLL in-place while it's running.

apt-cyg [1] is a nice simple bash script for managing Cygwin packages. I find very useful for avoiding the GUI installer when I just need to add or remove a few packages. For software that doesn't require an upgrade of the Cygwin DLL, they can be installed / removed from inside Cygwin itself.

[1] https://github.com/transcode-open/apt-cyg

I used Cygwin when I was on Windows but my advice is to use Windows for the client programs and run a headless Linux VM for everything else. Export its filesystem so you can use Windows to edit files but ssh to Linux to work with a terminal. You'll get a real package manager too.

So? Who cares about Windows conventions? You're using Cygwin to escape Windows.

I only use Cygwin because its the only way to use certain tools. I run a tidy Windows install otherwise. I wouldn't use it at all if I didn't need to.

Did you stop reading after the third sentence? I addressed that specifically later on. A lot of Cygwin's behavior is no more acceptable in Unix than in Windows.

And no, I don't use Cygwin to "escape" Windows. Windows is a perfectly functional GUI for casual daily use. I use Cygwin because it provides useful tools and utilities that aren't available in Windows.

Still runs in the Windows terminal, right? Small as it seems, one of the first things to push me to OSX from Windows was the ease of copying and pasting in and out of the terminal.

For the past couple of years, it uses mintty (based on the same code as putty) as its default terminal. I find mintty to be a very fine terminal emulator and is easily configurable; its default colour for rendering ANSI Blue was too dark for my liking but I was able to change it to the same colour that xterm uses.

It supports UTF8, 256 colours; copy-pasting is simple and easy. I suppose the only mainstream feature it's lacking is tabs -- but that doesn't bother me.

This is fixed for Windows 10 thankfully, along with a few other features that have been missing a while [1]. Multi-line copy, paste good paste support (correct formatting), newlines following resizes, transparency, etc.

[1] http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2014/09/window...

No, it has it's own terminal. Pretty nice too. I use it at work when I have to use Windows.

You cannot get better. About as close to Bash as you can get on Windows.

Git bash is better.

>Every new major release of OS X is a day or week spent disabling things

To be fair, I'm a .NET dev who has to do this in most Windows releases as well. It's a part of the customization of the OS. They don't tailor it to devs, they tailor it to normal users.

I'm in the same boat, basically using Macs for the hardware at this point. Nothing that I'm aware of comes close to MacBooks in build quality, display, and lack of driver issues, and the retina iMac is a fantastic developer workstation. But not being an iOS user, I find most of the changes since 10.6 either irrelevant or negative.

The Chromebook pixel... You just hook up a bigger SSD, and you are done ;)

Can the internal SSD be replaced, or are you referring to an external?

Is the RAM still limited to 4GB on these as well? That is what killed the idea of the Pixel for me.

Really? I'm waiting for a new Razer Blade 14" to show up with 970m graphics. Even the old one with 870m stomps a mudhole in a macbook these days man.

The Razer has a much worse processor, half the RAM, half the storage, half the battery life, and it's heavier than the 15" MacBook even though it's only 14". And according to reviews "it runs incredibly hot".

Not exactly "stomping a mudhole" is it?


Battery life is 5-6hrs compared to Apple's "up to 8 hrs" for the MBP 15. That's amazing considering Razer runs a 1344 core GPU. What does a pitiful MacBook Pro have? Integrated graphics. Hahaha. And for the highest end MBP they have? A puny 750m. I'm sure you won't get 8hrs with that one. Compare the two on any graphics benchmark. There's the mudhole I mentioned. 870m is 2x faster than a 750m.

The Razer also delivers a higher res touch screen. The Razer is thinner. It's also black and green which IMO looks much better than those boring silver MBPs.

And heavier than a MBP you say?





Razer wins again. Seems you don't know what you're talking about fanboi. Face it, Razer makes the nicest laptop you can buy anywhere. Period.

Most reviews say the Razer gets between 4 and 4.5 hours on battery. The MacBook is 9 hours and some reviewers got more than 9. Color is personal preference. I think aluminum looks better than plastic.

Nice job trying to use the specs page for the outdated non-Retina MacBook that nobody buys. Here's the real specs page: https://www.apple.com/macbook-pro/specs-retina/

13" MacBook is 1.57kg, 15" MacBook is 2.02kg. Razer is heaver than both.

And nice job ignoring the processor, RAM, storage, and the overheating, "fanboi".

>I think aluminum looks better than plastic.

You've never even seen one, have you? Razer is aluminum too.

>Nice job trying to use the specs page for the outdated non-Retina MacBook

Must be all Apple's gadget spam confusing me. That was the first result returned by Google for "MacBook Pro Specs". If you want to quible over 0.01Kg, then take a look at that 0.01 inches in thickness while you're at it. Oh gosh, that MacBook is just TOO THICK to use!! roll eyes

>And nice job ignoring the processor,

On noes! Apple's newer hardware has an extra 300 Megahertz cpu on the top of the line MBP vs the Razer. I know, Razer can break out the MHz Myth! Yay MHM!


Oh, sorry, I forgot. MHM only applies if Apple has the lower clock speed. I must have stepped out of the Reality Distortion Field for a moment.


LOL. Let's talk about RAM on the iPhone shall we? Oh, RAM isn't an issue on the iPhone because <blah blah blah>. I'll use that same excuse then ;)


Razer available with 512GB of storage. MBP available with 512GB of storage. What's your point again? Oh, I see. You can overpay for 1TB by spending an extra $500 as a BTO option. Good for you. I'm sure you're proud of that.

Ever heard of an external drive? They're pretty neat. You can hold big files on them, but you aren't punished by carrying around all the weight of a bigger main drive all the time. You might want to check into that. They're pretty nifty for the obviously 0.01Kg weight conscious traveler that you are.

>and the overheating

LOL. Glass houses man


At least the Razer team was smart enough to direct heat to a no touch zone above the keyboard. Look at that. The heat is all up in the keyboard on the MBP. What a shame. Your fingers must be cooking as you type your responses.

In the meantime, Apple's still low res. Apple's still lower pixel density. Apple's still missing a touch screen. Apple still has a missing or crippled GPU. In hardware that really counts, Razer comes out on top in a big way. But yeah, you're 10grams lighter on system weight, so you win. lol

Yes yes. DV my heretical vantage point, Appolytes. Truth hurts, doesn't it? CES 2015 starts tomorrow. Hoping to see a new model Razer. w00t!

I bought a linux laptop from System76 early this year, and aside from a fiddly trackpad, everything just works. I've seen a lot of people say the same about thinkpads.

Thinkpads have pretty much worked on Linux, for me.

Overall, Linux is great these days if you have compatible hardware. A random Windows laptop might be a problem, but a Thinkpad or a System76 or such should all be fine.

While it worked acceptably for three years, I gave up on my Thinkpad W520 this summer and switched to a Macbook Pro. Partly it was due to size (going from a bulky 15" to a really slim 13" computer is awesome), and partly it was due to wanting application support again, after seven years of almost exclusively using Linux.

One thing I'd like to say when looking at Thinkpads, or other laptops, for running Linux on, don't get one with hybrid graphics. My experience in trying to deal with it was a huge pain.

Maybe my problem was in going for the W-series. The older T-series laptops I've installed and used Linux on were great.

My T42 worked like a dream on Ubuntu 14.04 until recently, and now it refuses to awaken from sleep properly at all because of some update or other. I'm dreading trying to track this down and possibly finding out I'm stuck with using Windows 7.

I had (well, still have, but don't use) a w510. It worked just as well as the t61 before it (which was to say, they both did great under Linux), but it didn't have hybrid graphics... it was Nvidia all the time. The only reason I've replaced it was that it had absolutely abysmal battery life. Old job bought me a comparable ultrabook that weighs 20 pounds less and has 3x the battery life and I couldn't be happier.

I have a T430s - fairly thin with hybrid graphics. You should know that you can switch off hybrid graphics in the BIOS. Please feel free to get a hybrid graphics thinkpad - you can use it whichever way you want.

I have a w530 running linux and couldn't agree more about the hybrid graphics. It's caused me so much grief I almost switched to windows.

I have an ASUS with Nvidia Optimus, and once I installed Bumblebee the hybrid graphics work fine.

+1 - Thinkpads work out of the box in my experience, and with a bit of tweaking, I managed to move my parents to Linuxes (Mint) on "random Windows laptops" - a Compaq and a 17" HP.

But I guess it was just luck of the draw - YMMV.

Same, tried Trisquel and it just worked, except some flash media doesn't play which actually increased my productivity. Coursera videos, youtube work but spending countless hours streaming some TV links won't happen anymore unless I manually install a nonfree flash plugin from repository outside Trisquel, which is enough of a time transactional cost that I haven't bothered

What's the overall build quality like?

I've read (almost exclusively) bad things about the keyboard and overall plastic-ity of them.

I've got a 17" model. It is plastic, but I have no complaints about the overall build. The keyboard has pretty nice long-travel keys. The trackpad is horrible, the cursor tends to jump around a lot when you try to click. This is my first linux laptop so I don't know whether that's a common driver issue on linux. If not for that I would be 100% happy.

Another model got a lot of complaints about the keyboard a year or two ago, and System76 responded by sending everyone a better one for free.

Probably that was in comparison to past models. Compared to other brands, they are still pretty nice.

>I just dread the idea of moving to Linux again. I don't want to tinker that much.

If you don't use Unity and instead use a different environment like KDE, Ubuntu is actually a great system that requires minimal tweaking.

Same for Ubuntu Gnome. There's a few addons (or plugins, or whatever they call them) that I install to suite my preferences, but I can do a clean install + additional packages + tweak to my needs in under an hour. If you don't know the package names you'll want, maybe double that. The past few upgrades have also worked flawlessly for me, which makes it even easier.

That said, I intentionally purchase hardware that's known to work well with Linux (if you buy a system with all Intel chipsets, you'll probably be fine). Also, the power management is still abysmal. I still have to tinker with powertop to get battery life comparable to other OS's.

Amen to that. After doing some magic with powertop, I get about 5 hours out of my Thinkpad X201 9-cell battery, which is still less that the 7 on Windows they claim. But it guess the battery is getting older too, I've never replaced it (it has about 2 years)

I hated Unity at first, enough to stick with 10.04 when I ran Ubuntu (I was never impressed with Kubuntu/Xubuntu/Lubuntu, there was always something broken somewhere in all of those). But I finally gave it a go in 14.04, and it has vastly improved. It may still not be your cup of tea, but in my mind at least it's better than Gnome 3 and is worth a look.

That said, for my money you can't beat Mint with Xfce for a quick and easy casual GNU/Linux box. I always skip Xfce's compositor and install Compton for tear-free window dragging and video watching (Nvidia-specific issue I believe), but otherwise the default install is very good.

>I just dread the idea of moving to Linux again. I don't want to tinker that much.

The thing about Linux is that once you've tinkered, things stay the way you are.

Copy over your home folder to your next distro and just about everything goes back to the way it was. When I wiped xUbuntu 14.04 and installed the 15.04 alpha, I didn't have to do anything to get XFCE back the way I wanted after I copied the contents of my home folder over and gave it a reboot.

This is far, far more friendly than what OSX forces you to go through after each and every update.

Well, most of the times but not always. I use Ubuntu and I don't like having a bar on the top of the screen and the modal menu at the top, which are the primary reasons I don't use OSX. I was using Gnome 2 with all the menus and icons moved to the bottom bar, plus Compiz for the virtual desktops cube which I find a more natural way to remember where I am than with sliding desktops. One day Canonical introduced Unity, with a bar fixed to the top. No way to remove that, so I started using gnome fallback mode, or whatever is called. Enter Gnome 3, with much more workflow changing features. We can work around almost all of them now, not so much years ago. I kept using gnome fallback, which unfortunately requires more and more tweakings to mimic a subset of the functionality of Gnome 2 (which was all I need to work). So I ended up with an Ubuntu 12.04 with kernel upgrades (the hardware enhancement stack from Canonical) and a DE that doesn't work as well as it used to (some quirks here and there). It's very much the first lines of the post about OSX. At least Linux gives me more flexibility than OSX does.




Honestly. Fuck Unity and Gnome.

> The thing about Linux is that once you've tinkered, things stay the way you are.

Until they don't – I supported Linux desktop users for years and, even ignoring fun with the occasional kernel/driver update rendering systems unbootable or breaking sound/video, every so often I had to troubleshoot something which turned out to be caused by a backwards-incompatible change. It turns out that Linux developers are just like developers for every other platform and make mistakes or intentional changes for things they no longer wish to support.

> This is far, far more friendly than what OSX forces you to go through after each and every update.

My experience with every release since 10.0.0: install, reboot, go back to work. The thing to remember for every platform is that you hear about complaints from the small percentage of people who encounter something unusual because relatively few people spend months camped out on forums to remind everyone that an update didn't break anything.

Given how common sentiments like this are (I certainly share them enthusiastically), I'm kindof surprised there hasn't been more support for projects that attempt to address this somewhat by taking OS X compatibility beyond OS X:


As a heavy user of OS X, I have absolutely no idea what you're talking about related to your difficulties upgrading to new versions. I've gone from 10.4 all the way to Mavericks and have yet to have a single shred of trouble.

"The more important your Cheese is to you, the more you want to hold on to it."

Insofar as Cheese == Wi-Fi connection, I couldn't agree more.

I'm not sure you're aware of the extent of pissing that has taken place from Apple on its Power Users' faces between 10.6 and 10.9 (likely 10.10 even, I've given up).

This isn't just "WHY IS THIS 10px LEFT TO WHERE IT WAS ARGH THIS SUX0RZ" - really basic things were broken, such as multi-monitor full-screen. Also, multi-core machines actually benefited (performance-wise) from upgrading up until 10.6. Not so after Lion.

It's easy to blame the users for being change-averse, but... was I really meant to stop using 'full-screen'? "Just resize it from that little corner there?"? Please.

It's important to notice that he's switching to a desktop running linux. Running linux on laptops is still a gamble. Sometimes things work great. Sometimes you spend months trying to fix basic stuff like screen brightness[1][2] on hardware certified by Ubuntu.[3]

I think there's a market for a linux distro that targets a limited set of premium hardware. I'd gladly pay money for an OS that worked out of the box on any MacBook or Surface Pro made in the past two years.

Edit: Many people are replying with brands that work for them. I'm glad they've been lucky enough to avoid problems, but I am making a different point. On Macs, OS X is practically guaranteed to work out of the box. Wifi, bluetooth, trackpad, screen brightness, power management, hardware graphics acceleration, resume from suspend/hibernate, etc Just Works™. On Apple's hardware, users never have to worry about kernel flags or special drivers. The same is not true for any combination of laptop brand and linux distro. I truly wish it were otherwise.

1. http://fujii.github.io/2014/03/02/thinkpad-edge-e145-backlig...

2. https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/fglrx-installer/+b...

3. http://www.ubuntu.com/certification/hardware/201309-14195/

I have long argued that the marketing of various GNU/Linux distros as something you can install on any PC if you get tired of Windows for whatever reason was a huge mistake on the part of the community.

This attitude created the insane expectation that Ubuntu (or whatever) should run on any machine that previously ran Windows. That is a (hopelessly) tall order to fill, especially considering that new versions of Windows itself won't always run on machines that previously ran an older version of Windows.

We, as a community, mistakenly emphasized the sheer number of installs over the quality of those installs and the happiness of their users. The best way to market GNU/Linux, in my opinion, is to show someone a fully compatible, fully working machine that "Just Work[ed]" out of the box and explain, honestly, how it was achieved (by buying the right machine and using a distro known to work with that machine).

I believe that the "we can make any machine work, sort of..." attitude created a lot of crazy expectations, which hurt "switchers" and thus actually hurt the sale of fully compatible machines. Very sad.

I'm with you though. I bought a Mac solely for the battery life and the screen. If I could get a well-built machine, with a screen that didn't look washed out and a battery that consistently lasted more than four hours without weird tricks I would gladly pay Mac prices for it.

XPS 13 developer edition. Factory installed with Ubu.

I looked at that, and almost went with it over a MacBook. One problem is that it has very mixed reviews and some history of heat problems. Clearly Apple has had its share of issues as well, but that brings me to the next problem: it's a Dell. I have attempted twice in the past to give Dell my money, in both cases they botched the order so badly that I canceled it. Even still, I actually started the process of buying an XPS 13, only to be told that it wouldn't ship for over a month. I just can't take Dell seriously outside the enterprise market.

I've had incredibly good luck for the last several years with Linux on a laptop. You just have to be a bit careful. Here's what I've found:

- Backlight bugs are usually related to ACPI tables in the BIOS. Doing a BIOS upgrade will often fix them. This is especially true on the Thinkpad line where Lenovo explicitly supports Linux in its BIOS.

- Be careful with switchable graphics. While they have gotten a lot better, especially with open source drivers, they are still a pain (even on Windows). Choose a laptop with an Intel, or AMD APU. Or, barring that, make sure all of the scanouts are connected to the Intel card, like in my Thinkpad W540. The new Macbook Pro Retina 15" is exactly what you want to avoid - it forces all inputs to be connected to the discrete card when you boot Linux.

- Make sure you have a good wifi card. Intel or Atheros is the best.

- Do a bit of research before buying, like on the arch wiki.

- If you buy a bleeding edge laptop chipset, expect to need to use a bleeding edge distro for complete support.

For most people, eyes will start glazing around the second paragraph or so, which doesn't bode well for your "you just have to" argument.

How about this: just by a system with all Intel chipsets and you'll probably be fine.

Yes I agree, this is the short version of my advise. What I wrote above was for the HN audience.

> Do a bit of research before buying, like on the arch wiki

This, a thousand times. While I haven't used Arch for a few years, and probably never will again, they have some of the best and most complete documentation in the GNU/Linux world. Chances are, if there's ever been a Linux-specific issue, some Arch user has run into it and either fixed it themselves or found the answer in the Arch community. Their wiki is quite thorough as well.

Another great source is linuxquestions.org. Half a million members and still growing, and they cover all major distros (though there's a ton of Slackware power users there, which suits me fine).

The very fact that this list needs to exist demonstrates the problem.

Only the highest end rMBP has a discrete card, the cheaper one is just integrated.

> On Macs, OS X is practically guaranteed to work out of the box. Wifi, bluetooth, trackpad, screen brightness, power management, hardware graphics acceleration, resume from suspend/hibernate, etc Just Works™.

Interesting - my experience with respect to this is that Apple will "just replace it" if a user complains enough.

Both my MBPs (17" 2009, last 17" made (2012?)) had chronic sleep/resume issues, where they would wake up unprompted, either immediately after going to sleep, or after a while (in my bag, turning it into a furnace), or not resume at all when waking up.

The Genius Bar "replaced a daughterboard, which should fix it"[1], which naturally didn't.

In my quest for a solution, I tried everything and met hundreds of poor souls with this problem, of varying technical aptitude - some far exceeding mine.

Changing the sleep mode, examining logs/dmesg/provided no hints, or relief. I gave up and started shutting it down or hibernating.

I don't miss OS X.

[1] Not a direct quote, but something equally eye-roll-invoking.

I'm sorry you had a poor experience, but I think most would agree that such problems are quite rare compared to other OSes. Also, it sounds like you had decent support from Apple. Though they failed, they expended significant effort and money to try and solve the problem.

But your anecdote doesn't address my point: Do you think any combination of laptop brand and linux distro would be more likely to have everything work out of the box than Apple hardware running OS X?

> I'm sorry you had a poor experience

By no means! It worked out for the best.

> I think most would agree that such problems are quite rare compared to other OSes.

Macbooks are very popular nowadays, but somewhat less so 5-6 years ago when I was diagnosing this. There were many, many people in my shoes all over the Apple discussions and other forums ("hunderds" from my previous post is almost definitely an underestimation). I'm not sure what percentage of total users this adds up to, but personally I wouldn't call it "rare". You can picture the frustration of paying top dollar for a premium machine/experience, not getting Genius Bar help and trying out any whacky witchcraft-y solution in case it works (reset SMC! PRAM! throw salt behind your back! try the new firmware from today!). Ugh.

> Also, it sounds like you had decent support from Apple. Though they failed, they expended significant effort and money to try and solve the problem.

Not quite. It was I who expended significant effort (take it in/be laptopless for a few days) and money (not under warranty) and to no avail. I don't remember what they said they fixed, but they charged me a little for some hardware part and labour. I didn't repeat the experiment for that issue, but the next time I had to get Apple support, the response was astounding as well.[1] I don't place much faith in the Genius Bar, and it is far from blind Apple-bashing in my case.

> But your anecdote doesn't address my point: Do you think any combination of laptop brand and linux distro would be more likely to have everything work out of the box than Apple hardware running OS X?

Well, yes, but you aren't going to like it. If you want a "brand" recommendation, Thinkpads are still your best bet. I've seen you're hit by that brightness bug, and that really does suck, but... "such problems are quite rare compared to the average Linux on Thinkpad experience" :/ I got a refurb X220 from ebay and put 14.04 on it - everything worked, down to the fingerprint reader. Go for a specific model rather than a brand, as "Our Milages Do Vary" even within brands.

As for the out-of-the-box experience, for my personal use case (hacker/developer) I don't value it that much. I'd much rather tweak a bit, but then have a system that "won't betray me", than have something that works 90% of the way I'd want it to, out of the box, and occasionally crash and fail me in mysterious undiagnosable ways. OS X wasn't even at 90% for me - "Always on Top" available out of the box nowadays? I had Afloat for this (and transparencies) in 10.6, but it didn't work for 10.7+

For the out-of-the-box experience in a casual user's use case, I have another anecdote for you - my distinctly non-technical mother. After seemingly making a hobby out of infecting her Windows XP/Vista over the years, I had this crazy idea to try Linux Mint on her crapware HP 17" laptop. I won't lie to you, I did hold my breath a bit while installing, hoping that I'll manage to sort out the inevitable issues, and I was surprised to find no issues at all. Everything worked out of the box and she's still using it, over a year later, with no complaints or need for technical support from me. She's a casual user - browsing, email, flash game or two - and she didn't really need Windows that much after all.

Finally, just like OS X works well with specific hardware, Linux is sort-of the same. If all vendors bothered with Linux support, the situation would be different and you'd have much greater chances of "Just Works" - but alas, that isn't so. If you can pick your laptop to be compatible, you won't have issues 99% of the time. Occasionally, vendors lie/exaggerate about the extent of Linux support (grep for "XPS 13" for my rant elsewhere on this thread about Dell), so always double-check on wikis/forums/issue trackers (Arch wiki is a goldmine, even if you go with another distro). It sucks a little, that you have to go by specific model, but not that much, really.

Right now I'd pick a T or X series Thinkpad, with Ubuntu base for power users (and a strong recommendation to research other window managers) or Mint 17 base for average users.

[1] My second, and final data point with the Genius Bar (UK/Oxford Str - in case it matters): Took in my girlfriend's Macbook, under warranty, for some obvious hardware issues (disk not detected intermittently? instability issues? I can't recall exactly but it screamed hardware). I know this sounds like I'm making it up, but initially they told me that the issue was limited free disk space (5G/500G) and only accepted to take a deeper look at it after some stern comments from yours truly. I kid you not: not enough free disk space. Anyway, the motherboard was faulty and was replaced. And - miracle of miracles! - it worked even with the measly 5G free disk space >:[

But in all honesty, can you name another manufacturer who does have good technical support? I have dealt with tech support people from Dell, HP, Panasonic, Lenovo, and Apple. They all have the same roadmap of denial:

1. I don't see the problem. 2. Oh, I see, that's a feature! 3. Hmm, not a feature you say, then it must be those pesky 3rd party apps you are using. 4. Ok, ok, it's a clean install, have you done all the upgrades? 5. You have? I see, well we will probably fix it in the next driver/software update, wouldn't you like to just wait? 6. You wouldn't???? Ok, fine, I guess it might be a hardware issue, but it's probably not covered under warranty, because they all do it. 7. Ok, I guess it's just your device, but are you sure you have warranty? 8. Ok, fine, will fix it, but just this once!

Apple is no more a pain in the ass than any of the other major manufacturers. At least they have an Apple Store in most markets, so you can go and bitch at someone in person, rather than engaging in a futile argument with a bangladeshi call center operator. At least with Apple you have an option to choke to death the person who is "assisting" you, when you eventually snap, instead of just threatening to do so :) Ok, I am not sure if that last bit is a plus.

That being said, I do agree that Genius Bar people are mostly idiots, and are trained to avoid fixing your problem, if at all possible. But honestly, can't you say the same about all of the other companies.

I pay HP about 100 Euro per year for a next business day support and whenever something breaks in my laptop they either send me a technician or mail me the spare parts. In the last 8 years I remember the technician coming here to replace a worn out keyboard (5 years) and a screen which was developing some whitish pixels. The shipped me a couple of hard disks, one of them just in case the problem I had was related to the disk, and two new power units. No complaints ever.

If you pay for business level support it's usually much better. Panasonic only really deals with Business, so I had the best experience with them, though I still had to fight through initial wall of incompetence. Apple also has a business program which is very good, on par with Panasonic in my experience, but with Apple I think you have to buy in volume to get into that program. Nowadays, though, I make it a point to only buy lightly used hardware and fix it my self if a problem arises. So far it's been cheaper than buying warranty and hell of a lot less aggravating. Fingers crossed, of course.

Heh - spot on. I may have had slightly higher expectations from Apple due to their premium pricing (and public image) at some point, but certainly not after actually needing support.

My point was in response to "you received decent support from Apple", which has never been my case.

Purely anecdotal but I dual boot windows/linux(ubuntu) regularly on four separate ultrabooks(from three different manufacturers) with few complaints. (beyond the dearth of updates(that I appreciate anyway)).

Everything worked out of the box. 100%.

Yep, my experience has been anything labelled ultrabook works pretty well. My main linux laptop is a toshiba z830. The only problem out of the box with Ubuntu is a fairly easy to solve backlight issue.

In particular, though, there's an ancient piece of conventional wisdom that always floats around that's very pro-nvidia+linux, but I think it's terribly outdated. AMD and nVidia compatibility with linux are both quite bad and both the OSS and proprietary drivers create a lot of problems for both. You're better off just using Intel straight through, their OSS drivers are plenty good for dev work and quite stable in my experience.

I use the proprietary drivers for nVidia on Ubuntu, always have, works great.

There's the Dell Sputnik series.[1] They are pricey but specifically designed to run Ubuntu.


I like that it comes with 12.04 instead of 14.04. The former is, in my experience, much more stable for daily use. The latter has a much improved Unity experience, but there are stability issues compared to 12.04.

It is a bit out of my range, but it's nice to know Dell is offering a quality non-Windows machine.

I know someone that went from a Macbook Pro to one of these. He's been incredibly happy with it, and described the "just works" factor as being in the same range as his old Pro.

The XPS series is no pillar of Linux support. Turn to Thinkpads for this[0]. In case you can't be bothered with the upcoming wall of text: Dell seems to have entirely different definitions of "support" for the paid OS, vs. the free one.

I could pick my own hardware for work, and I went with an XPS 13 9333 "Ubuntu edition" + superspeed dock for over 1300 GBP ($2K USD). I shouldn't have sponged on the extra hundred or so bucks for the X1 Carbon (..."startup"...), but the "Linux readiness" sucked me in. I don't exactly feel like I got my money's worth:

- "Coil Whine"[1]. My expectations from a $2K SSD laptop is complete fucking silence unless the fans are going. There is still some serious coil whine happening when some arbitrary conditions are met - If you often work in a quiet environment (any AM workers here?), you will notice this eventually. This also changes pitch when <things>, so you won't be tuning it out. This was noted as fixed by Dell for the 9333[2], when in fact it hasn't been. Not exclusively a Linux issue, but unacceptable in a $2K machine.

- Driver support: wifi: Identity crisis. The stock wifi drivers don't quite register as wifi drivers, but at least NetworkManager still kinda works. "Huh?"

     # iwconfig
     wlan0         no wireless extensions.
Why do I care? Because maybe I wanted to switch out NetworkManager for wicd (not possible). Maybe I wanted monitor mode on my card (nope). Maybe I just wanted to run Kismet - or anything other than NetworkManager (not possible). Huh.

- Driver support: wifi: instability. I got very frequent wifi disconnects/hiccups/delays on both the 2.4G and the 5G bands, when other hardware on the same location worked just fine (my Mac co-workers liked to pick on me for this, but hey, I would too in their shoes). By "delays", I'm not nit-picking milliseconds, I mean getting 2000ms+ pingbacks from the AP when a macbook placed right on top of it (for science) got the expected 20-70ms. Huh.

- Driver support: Touchscreen: forget about it.[3] Kind of entirely broken. After using the touch screen, moving the mouse (or trackpad) again will "jump" the cursor position to around 2x, 2y of where you left the touchscreen pointer. This was so annoying when I had a bottom-right "hot corner" kind of thing on Ubuntu (Mac convert here, forgive me) that I disabled the touchscreen entirely with xinput (any accidental touches would subsequently trigger "expose" mode). Also, if you attach a second monitor, the touchscreen input is mapped to the entire virtual desktop, rather than the laptop screen alone. As a consequence, under such circumstances, the touchscreen would only work correctly for taps at 0,0. Huh.

- Superspeed Dock: forget about it entirely, you'll regret buying one for Linux. First of all, not actually a dock, but a port replicator. Nevermind that, that's me being pedantic. Secondly, $180. Nevermind that, that's me being cheap. Thirdly, it doesn't work: Ethernet won't work[4], audio/mic won't work, HDMI won't work, DVI won't work. Very disappointing, I was looking forward to a triple screen setup. Oh well. Counterpoint: Well, Dell says it won't work, so what did you expect? Dell should put some more intelligence into its "also recommended for you" part of the website. Even if I had seen it, I would have expected some kind of hackaround to be possible. I search far and wide - no dice for the stuff that I cared for (screens/audio). It seems to be related to DisplayLink, which simply dropped Linux Support for its 3xxx/4xxx series. Nice.

Apologies for abusing your vertical screen real-estate, but I've been holding back this rant for well over a year now, and "it's your fault for triggering it" (I kid). But seriously, Dell's "Linux ready $2K wonder" would get them sued if they pulled the same crap for Windows. But it's Linux, so who gives a shit, right?

[0] Bought a refurbished X220 from ebay for 1/5 the price of the XPS 13 - installed Ubuntu - everything worked from the get-go. Even the fingerprint reader. I've read similar experiences for the vast majority of Thinkpads, since the IBM days, through the Lenovo days. Highly recommended for Linux, though YMMV.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cwR4CWzDtfQ Mine isn't quite as bad (or the recording volume is deceptively high on this video), but still very noticable after a while. Also, not deterministically reproducible (my favourite kind of bug). And no, I am not confused about what a fan sounds like. Fans don't change pitch when you hit the built-in keyboard, or scroll on Chromium, or fart in its direction. The pitch change is what makes it stand out from "background noise", so you won't be able to tune it out if you're one of the lucky ones. At a point of high frustration (with another unrelated bug) I literally shouted "shut your fucking face" at my laptop, waking up my girlfriend in the next room :/

[2] http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/laptop/f/3518/t/... "We fix coil whine - the fix is: buy 9333s!" - Blatant lie.

[3] Personally, I don't really care about the touchscreen - there simply wasn't an option for the i7 CPU without one, so... "whatever". Still completely broken drivers, though.

[4] And the XPS13 doesn't have an ethernet port either, so you rely on the (not so reliable wifi) entirely for networking, if you need such advanced features. I found some hack to make it work, but I forget which exactly. (Document! Idiot.).

Ditto with coil whine on laptops. (Not same brand.)

My laptop is noticeably whiny a large chunk of the time. Seems to predominantly occur when scrolling image-heavy webpages, or graphics demos with no framerate limiters, but happens other times as well.

Coil whine is terrible! I'm unsure how that gets by anyone's QA.

The "fix" is to disable low power CPU states. Yeah, you cut battery life, but at least it doesn't bore into your brain. I'd also suggest if you have onsite warranty to keep asking for replacements. Until laptop reviewers grow spines, it's probably the only way to get an issued noticed.

Edit: If you want to see if that'll help, just get a program to run at full CPU and see if the sound goes away. On several ThinkPads I noticed this (scrolling activates CPU), then saw people mentioning the CPU suspend states. Bingo.

I'll try this out, but in XPS's case it is very much a Heisenbug.

For some people it triggers only when a secondary monitor is attached (that's me, usually - right now I don't think it is on, but then again the fans are going so they may be covering it).

For others, it immediately goes away if you switch off the backlight (didn't work for me).

I don't recall if someone has mentioned this in the XPS coil whine bughunt, but I'll give it a go the next time my laptop starts whining. Thanks!

Yes. Honestly, if all OSX brought to the table was "works seamlessly with laptop hardware" I'd probably still use it - unless there was a Linux distro that did the same.

Don't know a 'paid Linux OS' but system76.com makes PCs specifically for Linux, which is effectively a limited set of premium hardware.

Do check the reviews, though. For a while, system76 had a terrible reputation for quality, and none of them compare to my t420 even today, as far as I can tell.

I bought a System76 laptop this summer, to replace one I bought in 2012. Both worked great for me. My Ubuntu 14.10 upgrade went off without a hitch, and the 2012 laptop has upgraded without problems as well.

How is the build quality? How is the keyboard these days?

I do seem to have to bang hard on the space bar. It has not been enough of a problem for me to see if I can tune spacebar sensitivity in software.

I've been running linux on a variety of laptops for 15+ years without any issues that were outside my comfort level.

If you are looking for a locked-down consumer appliance of a computer then linux really isn't for you.

That's really the most extraordinary part of the whole movement. 20 years into it it's become mainstream on phones, set top boxes, and embedded devices everywhere but it hasn't also necessarily become some washed down, stupefied, lowest-common-denominator black box that is impenetrable to look at where you rely on the whims of some private company to fix issues that you are unable to communicate to them.

It's still grass-roots and community driven at its core. It hasn't sold out. Anyone is still just a bit a time and hard work away from making a difference - that's pretty powerful.

This is all true and I love it on a theoretical level.

But I write code for a living and I really can't justify ever having my laptop out of commission because of hardware/OS issues.

"Hey, boss. I'm not going to have my work done today because I installed an $DISTRO update and now my laptop is having driver issues."

Well, then, you can't afford to have less than two laptops then - because every single operating system, including Linux, Windows and OS/X, had botched upgrades.

Sure. When I was a freelance consultant doing Windows stuff, I did have a backup laptop for just that reason - in case an upgrade borked things, or my hardware failed.

OSX makes this particularly easy, though: you clone an OSX install with Carbon Copy Cloner or SuperDuper to an external drive. (I have this scheduled to run nightly) You can then boot another Mac from that external drive.

The result is that you don't have to maintain two separate OSX installs. You can borrow somebody else's Mac, boot from your external drive, and boom - your data and your entire working environment are ready to go.

Of course you could also accomplish this with other operating systems. If your main work environment is a virtual machine, it's pretty trivial.

True, though I wouldn't personally buy two laptops just to avoid update hell. I'd rather just manually update once I'm sure it won't bork my system, and only when I can afford some potential downtime.

That said, I can't imagine too many developers or IT professionals who only have one working computer at their disposal. I am typing this on my Windows 7/Slackware main workstation, with an old laptop running OpenBSD to my left and an old tower running NetBSD to my right. I can jump on either of those two and get back to work in a few minutes if this one goes down.

there's certainly a fanboy hobbyist requirement in making a linux-you-install-yourself work for you. it takes a bit of passion and commitment.

Just like the automobile enthusiast who always disassembles parts of their car and replaces components - although their cars probably break down more often these people are enraptured in the art of auto mechanics. What would be our expensive nightmare is to them, hours of enjoyable pastime.

This is the best explanation of linux in terms of where it sits with respect to other operating systems. I've had a pretty similar experience as yourself with linux on laptops. Sometimes there are surprises, especially when upgrading, but nothing that the community can't handle. And usually the experience is much better with linux than Windows. I bought a Win8 machine last year and the wifi stopped working due to a bad driver. At the time I thought it was bad hardware, but under linux it worked flawlessly. Just recently, with the latest win8.1 updates, the wifi started to work again. Yeah, yeah, I know, the windows apologists will blame the wifi manufacturer, anyone but Microsoft. I got you. BUT... it worked for me under linux!

"If you are looking for a locked-down consumer appliance of a computer then linux really isn't for you." LOL, I was going to say, what about chromeOS? That's a locked down distro based on linux. Luckily it is very easy to install a linux distro on it, as I have. You can have the best of both worlds, a locked down simple to use computer, and a tweak to your heart's delight linux distro.

>> If you are looking for a locked-down consumer appliance of a computer then linux really isn't for you.

As other have pointed out System 76 targets Linux. I've got an old Dell that shipped with Ubuntu, still works great. Someone else mentioned their new series for Ubuntu, search on the Dell site.

>I think there's a market for a linux distro that targets a limited set of premium hardware.

Technically, and conceptually, I think a better observation to make would be that there is a market for premium hardware that works well with linux. Thinkpads used to occupy this niche, but no longer.

I'm adding this here because you gave me the idea indirectly... but what if there were a Linux Distro that targeted OS X? To make a Linux or FreeBSD version of the "Just Works" experience?

Most distros already do this. Most distros already try to "Just Work". A better approach, I think, is to ship (with the distro, autodetected at install time) tweaks for for specific hardware, and to explicitly target developers in the out-of-the-box setup of the system. Fedora[0] (as I've said elsewhere in these comments) is now doing the latter, while still maintaining a "Just Works" system; it would be interesting if they chose to do the former as well.

[0]: https://getfedora.org/

I meant more for the whole focus of the distro to be supporting specifically Mac hardware and it's variations out of the box. For instance, supporting the media keys from Mac and etc.

That would be Elementary OS. It's gotten pretty awesome lately.

I would highly recommend Elementary to jaded OS X users in particular, along with anyone else with an inclination to use Linux. I regularly and happily use all major OSs for coding, design and other super serious stuff, and this is my favorite Linux distro by far.


It's fast.

It looks nice.

And has no window menu whatsoever in any application at all, despite having plenty of space for that.

You video player has detected the wrong ratio for the video you want to see?

Bad luck, elementary will not let you change it.

I've always wondered why this wasn't the case already. The great part about targeting Apple hardware is that there isn't that much of it (comparatively).

I've tried Ubuntu on a Dell XPS 13, certified for 12.04. It was acceptable, resume didn't work. But Webex doesn't work and GitLab BV customers use it, so I bought a MPB yesterday.

>> resume didn't work

I still sometimes have to use Windows for work and resume/hibernate works about half the time. The other half I have to power reset it. That's with HP, Dell and Lennovo running Windows 7.

FYI: http://windows.microsoft.com/en-us/windows7/sleep-and-hibern...

I'm guessing here but I bet the picture for sleep/hibernate ain't all rosy for Macs either.

  > the picture for sleep/hibernate ain't all rosy for Macs either.
I tried and failed to think of a non-smug way to put this but... it is rosy, actually.

This is an issue that is easy to solve when you control the hardware and the software. Also, if a bug crops up the prevents sleep/hibernate from working seamlessly, I'm sure it goes to the top of the priority list.

It's one of those things that has worked well for a long time. I remember on an old Powerbook G4, putting OSX to sleep while it was in the middle of the shutdown process only to wake it later to be welcomed by the shutdown process finishing and powering off.

[Not that OSX didn't have huge warts in those days. SambaFS/CIFS filesystem driver didn't deal well with the server going away for whatever reason. Reads/writes would block forever (because the driver didn't decide to time-out) and anything that attempted to touch it (even Finder) would immediately get sucked in to endlessly waiting.]

I tried OSX on my Thinkpad. It was freezing constantly, sometimes it would not even start. Really bad experience.

Just get supported hw, and you will be fine, applies to all operating systems.

> Running linux on laptops is still a gamble

I believe the same is true of OS X, which only works reliably on something like 12% of laptops sold.

My solution is booting to Windows for the driver support, battery, etc. then VMware. No hardware issues ever, plus additional security.

Yes, I use vagrant and virtualbox and haven't had any issues running a centos or ubuntu. Best of both worlds, and heaven compared to cygwin (oh, the scripts I've written to deal with cygwin).

Most of my scripts run unmodified between Cygwin and Linux (OSX is a different story, if you don't have GNU tools on the path).

The single biggest problem with Cygwin is performance: forking is very slow. When I need to rewrite a script for Cygwin, it's almost invariably to reduce the number of processes spawned.

But almost all of the time, it just works, even building third-party stuff from source. On my home setup, I spend about half my terminal time with Cygwin, the other half in ssh sessions to Linux boxes, and there's no real mental context switch required.

What do you mean by "additional security"? From Windows?

He probably means the additional security of whatever is running in the VM, a compromised VM wouldn't be able to escape its restricted virtual world.

Thinkpads work great.

Did you not see my links to where a ThinkPad, certified by Ubuntu, has broken screen brightness? I own an X140e and it has been a nightmare. I've had it for a year and I still can't get bluetooth to work[1]. I've also tried a Carbon X1 and it leaves much to be desired.

Like I said, it's a gamble. Sometimes the hardware and drivers and phase of the moon is right and everything works. Sometimes no amount of kernel flags and customized modules will fix it. I (along with many others) am willing to pay to not have to worry about potential problems.

1. I ranted a little about it near the end of a recent blog post: http://geoff.greer.fm/2015/01/03/ten-years-of-progress-in-la...

The backlight issue is not a bug inherent to Thinkpads. The kernel works very hard to sort out the whole vendor specific mess about backlight interfaces and works out an appropriate place to manage the controls for users (what users? system daemons? console users? desktop environment? desktop end users?) There has been some major rework around kernel 3.16 and many behaviors have changed.

In the case of ThinkPads, you have three interfaces to control backlight brightness: acpi_video0 (standard ACPI interface), intel_backlight (GPU interface), and thinkpad_acpi (vendor specific interface) all with different semantics conforming to ACPI standard, Windows 7 behaviors, Windows 8 behaviors, and vendor private behaviors, and you have user interfaces including BIOS wired special keys, sysfs, udev, X utils, GPU control panels, and desktop environment settings to control the brightness. You have these moving parts for just one vendor and the kernel needs to coordinate all the madness with all the vendors. And the fixes coming out in latest version kernel might not even make it to your version of distros.

So there is a lot of complexity in the even seemingly trivial screen brightness control. Linux still has much to do with the support of heterogeneous hardware. But this is the price you pay for the freedom.


I use a Carbon X1 and have had no issue. Before I've been through other X's and a W.

I haven't seen you mention it anywhere, so did you try a BIOS / firmware update? I've had similar bugs on multiple Thinkpads before and they were universally cured by an update.

Thanks for the suggestion, but I've updated the BIOS multiple times. It didn't fix anything.

What version of Ubuntu? If it's 12 then you might need to do what I did for my new PC a year ago to get the latest drivers:


That fixed the only issue I had which was with the 1 Gig ethernet. Now I'm on stock 14 and of course it has all the newer drivers already.

I've tried 12.04LTS, 13.10, 14.04LTS, and now 14.10. Sometimes upgrading, sometimes from a clean install. The current issues with my ThinkPad are due to bugs in the latest drivers.

... unfortunately the state of Linux on laptops makes the all-too-common case of _repurposing_ a laptop incredibly painful. :/

... unless you think ahead and only buy (and recommend) Thinkpads.

Very specific Chromebooks fit the bill as well. One that works particularly well is the Acer C720.

Edit: wanted to clarify that this C720 is my current personal portable. My other is a custom built desktop also running Ubuntu.

No (non-chrome) distro currently works out of the box on the c720 (at least among the x64 variants). The most convenient solution at the moment involves recompiling the kernel after every security upgrade, which is hardly ideal.

While technically you're right the worst I have to do is pay attention when a kernel upgrade is part of apt-get dist-upgrade and then run a single script then reboot.

>the worst I have to do is pay attention

Well, that does kinda destroy the convenience of apt.

Since I can't reply to 'aaron-lebo" in the app I'm using:

I'm running Ubuntu and a set of kernel modules I can link later but they are the very same that were then altered for Arch ( which I also tried but had some problems with ). These have carried me from 13.04-14.04 and I'm hoping the 3.17 kernel will be included soon because these components are built right into that kernel version AFAIK.

What distro are you running on the c720? Getting arch to run required loading up modified kernels, none of which ever worked and I just gave up.

I want to quit OS X but can't until I get (as almost everyone else in the world has said):

1.) Laptop hardware/construction that rivals Apples. I hate plastic. I hate it.

2.) A usable trackpad. Apple has by far the most usable trackpad and it works well. Windows/Linux laptops force me to bring a mouse because the trackpads/drivers are essentially crap by comparison.

3.) Hassle-free wireless and graphics card drivers. Linux I'm staring you in the eye poking you in the kidney. This isn't always a crapshoot, but boy howdy can it be.

4.) An supported upgrade path. Too many "PC" manufacturers put their hardware out to pasture the day it's released. No updates. No support.

Windows is largely unusable for me for development work[1]. Babun or cygwin make things better but I hate having this fucked off environments disconnected from the core of the operating system. It's like working/developing in a vagrant box without wanting to...

Linux is damn close but without a good hardware vendor it's a no go. I could buy a Mac and install Linux on it, but what's the point? Might as well just use OS X... and here we are.

[1] I want to emphasize the "for me" part. I'm not trying to say you can't enjoy it, or that it's across the board "shitty" by any means. I gladly recognize for some folks-- it's wonderful.

Thinkpad - the only other laptop that gets as much respect and fanaticism as Macbooks. Out-of-the-box compatibility with most linux flavors. Very eminently upgradable and maintainable (we cannot, in all seriousness, even begin to compare the maintainability of Thinkpads to Macbook)

Oh and the Thinkpad keyboard kicks the Macbook's butt.

The very first thing he said was "he hates plastic".

And keyboard preference is just that, preference. I personally like my Macbook Pro's keyboard to my Thinkpad's. Weird how opinions work. But maybe this guy would actually like the Thinkpad's keyboard...he should go try one out. Do Best Buy's carry them? Are Best Buy's still around?

The commenter above is correct in that I don't like plastic as the primary reason why a Thinkpad is out... Perhaps if they produced an aluminum unit I'd give it a shot.

I really want to emphasize I'm talking about my preference. I don't want to anyway say that the Thinkpad isn't great for some folks.

With that said...

I personally just don't like Thinkpad keyboards at all.

A MacBook Pro (MBP) keyboard for me is much nicer to type on, but it's also completely inferior to a mechanical keyboard (again, for me).

I've looked (online) at some from HP (envy?) and they seemed alright but were often underpowered for my tastes. I really like that I can get a high power i7 in a MBP. Cheap? No. Fast? Yes. I'm okay with paying that premium.

I haven't tried the Lenovo Thinkpads; so, I am admittedly behind the times.

One change to MBPs that I loathe is not being able to upgrade my ram or SSD. I'd be fine if it was a weird format/connector/size, as a result of the form factor, but having them soldered on is a step too far.

I also very much miss my matte screen. Matte "stickers" (?) suck and just look shitty.

The thinkpad X-series are made of carbon fiber[1] and you get the legendary keyboard. The Thinkpad keyboards are IMHO the next best alternative to mechanical keyboards.

[1] http://shop.lenovo.com/us/en/laptops/thinkpad/x-series/x1-ca...

The current X-series keyboards are probably better described as "infamous" than "legendary". Not that they're necessarily bad, but no one who would ever use the phrase "legendary Thinkpad keyboard" was happy to see them go with yet another crappy chiclet Macbook clone.

Have any of the critics you refer to here actually used the current keyboards? For over several months? If that is even the case, they are probably those who prefer form over function, because the current keyboards are objectively no worse than the classical one and even better on certain aspects. The current keyboards have similar tactile feedback measured, even bigger touch space, better design for maintenance, and greater endurance against grease and dirt.

Panasonic's Let's Note series.

It made Alan Kay part with Mac. The downside is their price, otherwise they are superior to Apple's Mac Books.

I feel like I'm taking crazy pills, as Yosemite has been the best OS X release since Snow Leopard for me. Runs brilliantly, added a lot of nice features (Continuity and nicer widgets than Dashboard), looks better than Mavericks (and much better than Lion or ML).

Then again, I use a MacBook Air, which doesn't usually seem to be the Mac of choice for people on here, so... shrug

My problem with Yosemite is related to VNC (screen sharing): the desktop freezes for minutes after I end a session.

Sometimes the mouse still moves, but nothing else. About 50% of these cases I need to reboot the laptop. I used to reboot my Mac once a month or less. Now it's daily.

I want to downgrade OSX from 10.10 to 10.8, two versions back, because I read somewhere that it's the fastest of them.

In the last 2-3 years, Apple only added self-serving cloud shit and tried to make everything more like iOS, but the fucking Finder columns still don't auto-resize to the length required to read the filenames without "...." in the middle.

Feature-wise I like it. Unfortunately, I ran into a show-stopper bug immediately after the upgrade: I turned on FileVault (without really meaning to) and it got stuck during the encryption stage. The progress bar doesn't move and the estimated time remaining keeps increasing until it says "months."

So now every time I turn on my MBA 2011, FileVault kicks into high gear and drains the battery in under an hour, rendering the machine unusable unless it's plugged in. The only solution seems to be to reformat the machine. Yeah right, like I have the time for that.

I have an Air as well. I like the visual update, but I do feel like everything runs a bit slower than it did prior to the update.

You're not taking crazy pills. The difference is you're not a Linux hacker that switched because it was hip and who never bothered to put 1/10th of the effort into understanding OS X, and now is complaining because it's not linux and switching back (which is now hip since google declared Apple evil for innovating)

This is just another in the weekly 5 minutes of hate on Apple that Hipster News loves to perpetuate.

> Linux hacker that switched because it was hip and who never bothered to put 1/10th of the effort into understanding OS X

Put two minutes into understanding this[1] and then come back and tell me I'm a hipster douchebag because I needed my damned second screen.

[1] OSX lion 10.7 full screen apps disables second monitor. https://discussions.apple.com/thread/3204004 (and hundreds, if not thousands, of duplicate threads for 10.7 and 10.8)

The solution is simple: Don't use the full screen mode unless you have an 11" MacBook Air and need even the topmost 20px of screen estate.

I used full-screen in leu of a Maximize shortcut. As you well know, "Zoom" doesn't quite work as Maximize does in Windows.

So, the solution is actually: Just move and resize your windows with the mouse, like normal people.

Or use one of the many apps that give you all sorts of window controls (including a nice maximize shortcut) like SizeUp (no connection, but happy user).

EDIT: Grammar


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